Attraction World eyes six foreign markets after £6.9m buyout

Theme parks and tickets specialist Attraction World aims to be operating in six overseas markets within a year having finalised a management buyout last week.

The company launched in Germany two weeks ago after agreeing a deal with travel agency consortium Schmetterling.

The £6.9 million management buyout, secured after discussions first opened in January, will release funds for further international expansion and technology development.

Tony Seaman, sales and marketing director, who led the buyout with managing director Paul Stobbs, said he was delighted the deal had finally been done.

“I feel elated and anxious because this is where the journey begins. Over the last four years the business has grown phenomenally and now we have to take it to the next stage. To get the deal done is great. To have people come along and want to invest in myself and Paul – I’m over the moon.”

As well as further expansion in Europe, Attraction World will look to launch in other English-speaking countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

In these far-flung markets the firm is likely to adopt a franchise model, whereas in Europe its operations are likely to remain run directly from the UK.

“What’s become clear to me over the last few years is that we are a very strong business-to-business proposition. We provide a one-stop shop for the trade and the model is, in essence, transportable,” said Seaman.

“We are not going to go bonkers, but we are looking at some of the current partners we work with who have overseas operations. It makes sense to have partnerships with them overseas.

“By the end of next year we hope to be selling out of six international markets. Part of the benefit of bringing the investors in is there is quite a lot of cash available for expansion.”

The venture capitalist, which secured the MBO, buying out the original shareholders including former Seligo owner David Cockerton, was Midlands-based Maven Capital Partners.

Seaman said there was intense competition, Maven having been chosen from among five interested parties.

“They just loved the model. We were quite flattered because they said it was the best deal they had ever done.

“We wanted someone who would add value to us and allow us to operate in a volatile market, to understand the ups and downs of travel.”

Maven partner Andrew Ferguson said: “Maven continues to look for solid businesses in which to invest and Attraction World represents an attractive opportunity to support a company that has demonstrated year-on-year growth with excellent cash generation.

“This is an exciting time for Attraction World, particularly with its expansion into the German market, and Maven looks forward to supporting the continued growth and success of the business during this period.”  

Seaman said Attraction World would make just under a £1 million profit this year, a significant turnaround on four years ago when he joined and it was “struggling to make a profit”.

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